Roundabout Name
Routes R5/R6 and a history of buses in the North Downs villages
Launch Cover1986

My thanks to Ian Smith for the above history. More information can be found at his site by clicking here


The 1924 General map of country area services shows the villages of Cudham, Knockholt and Halstead had yet to be served by bus. East Surrey Route S2 Bromley – Sevenoaks followed the A21 to the east via Polhill, while the S10 Bromley – Reigate skirted the area to the west via Westerham Hill.

Under London Transport from 1933, these routes became 402 and 410 respectively, but continued to follow their East Surrey lines of route. However, the 1934 LT Country Area timetable shows a huge expansion of routes linking the North Downs settlements with Sevenoaks and Orpington.

The circular service resembling current route R5 started life as route 419, whose terminal was Green Street Green. Curiously, this was the original terminal proposed in the 1985 Consultation Exercise for two circular routes L5 and L6. However, in the 1930’s, Green Street Green provided shopping, employment and recreational opportunities that rivalled Orpington. By the mid-eighties, the situation had long changed, and Orpington became the main objective of the North Downs villagers. Yet the planners sought to introduce a need to change buses in Green Street Green, albeit with the intention of using resources to increase the frequencies around each loop. After consultation, routes R5 and R6 were created as described on the Roundabout Routes page.

In 1934, route 419 is shown as working from Green Street Green via Cudham, Knockholt Pound, Halstead, Knockholt Station, A21, Pratts Bottom, to Green Street Green. In this direction, four journeys operated in the morning Mondays to Saturdays, and two on Sundays. After midday, the route operated in the opposite direction, with six journeys Sundays to Fridays, and seven on Saturdays.

Route 471 is shown in the 1934 timetable, but operating daily at two hourly intervals in each direction from Westerham Hill via Hawley’s Corner, Grays Road, Scotts Lodge, Knockholt Pound, Halstead, Polhill, Dunton Green, Riverhead to Sevenoaks.

Also in 1934, route 431 ran daily every two hours in each direction from Orpington, via Green Street Green, Pratts Bottom, Rushmore Hill, Knockholt Pound, Halstead, Polhill, Dunton Green, Riverhead to Sevenoaks.

Central area red buses had penetrated the area at weekends since 1923, when route 47 (Shoreditch – Farnborough) was extended to Green Street Green and on summer Sundays from 1934, via Rushmore Hill to Knockholt Pound.

After World War II, the Bromley area January 1947 timetable shows that considerable “rationalisation” had occurred. Route 402, together with Green Line 704, remained loyal to the A21, but route 419 had disappeared from the area in favour of circular routeings on the 471 based on Orpington Station. The 431 operated Orpington – Sevenoaks but via Chelsfield village instead of Green Street Green. However, the frequencies in 1947 reflected the much higher patronage enjoyed by country routes in that pre- commonplace car ownership era. Route 471 ran hourly in each direction, increasing to half-hourly in the afternoons daily. Route 431 also ran hourly, daily, with many extras serving Fort Halstead, for example, with variants deserved of suffixes to the basic route number.

The 47 was withdrawn from Knockholt Pound in 1953, and the 431 and 471 eroded gradually, losing their Sunday services in 1967. By 1972, frequency reductions had become so severe that the circular nature of route 471 was all but abandoned, in favour of rerouteing at Knockholt Pound, to support route 431 to/from Sevenoaks.

In 1981, route 471 became a circular operation again, every two hours in each direction, as help in the form of Green Line 706 (renumbered from 704 in 1979) arrived, being diverted off the A21 to recognise Halstead and Knockholt Pound en route to/from Sevenoaks. The had 706 lost its “express” status that year, becoming more of a local service upon withdrawal of route 402.

Such was the state of affairs upon the birth of Roundabout in 1986.

My thanks to Karl Gurney for the above information.


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